Which social movements do you know? In the 21st century, there are social movements such as Fridays for Future and Black Lives Matter. We can see that a social movement like this starts from an idea that only a few people agree on, but develops into an opinion owned by many people. In this article, I will discuss social movements and their examples.
The Definition of Social Movement
According to Britannica, a social movement is a loosely organized but continuous series of collective activities to support social change, either to encourage or prevent changes in the structure or values of society1.
Causes of Social Movement
There are two causes of social movements, the first is individual psychological factors and the second is the characteristics of society at a certain time. Each factor will be explained as follows.
1. Psychological factors
Psychological factors are related to whether or not someone is encouraged to join a social movement. According to van Zomeren, those factors are:
- Does the person feel the moral values he believes are being violated
- Does the person feel angry emotions that other people feel, not just themselves?
- Does the person feel that he is part of the group of people who want to push for a systemic change (policy, value system)?
- Does the person feel that this group will be able to bring about the desired change?
2. Social factors
a. Culture Shift
As can be seen from history, civilization is always evolving. This causes various changes in society. During a cultural shift, people can create new ideas or hold new values. It is this wider adoption of new ideas and values that is sought through social movements.
b. Social Disorganization
Changes in society are generally irregular because changes in other places do not occur simultaneously. One part can develop rapidly first while the other part is not too developed, causing lagging. Social disorganization causes confusion and uncertainty because the old rules are no longer the guide. Then this confusion gave birth to social movements.
c. Social Injustice
If a group of humans get unfair treatment, then they will feel frustrated and alienated. It is this feeling that fosters social movements. It is not only the poor who can create social movements due to injustice, but anyone from various backgrounds2.
The Social Movements that Shakes the World
1. Fridays for Future (FFF)
As mentioned on its official website, Fridays for Future (FFF) is a youth-led and organized movement to protest the lack of action to tackle the climate crisis. The movement began in August 2018 after 15-year-old Greta Thunberg and other young activists sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks. Greta also distributed flyers that said “You adults don’t give a shit about my future!”
Today, every month students around the world take to the streets to demand that politicians pay more attention to the severity of climate change and take action. This social movement has attracted the attention of more than one million youth in more than 100 countries3.
At a UN climate conference, Greta made a statement that shook viewers “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be here, but you all depend your hopes on young people. How dare you guys!”
Children can not issue a policy. Therefore, they continued to protest and negotiate. And the results are not in vain. In 2019, German Chancellor Angela Merkel implied that the FFF influenced her so at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York she told officials they were getting calls to “wake up” from young people. Then, the German government issued a new regulation banning the sale of oil heaters from 2026 and setting a price of 10 Euros for every tonne of carbon dioxide emissions from transportation and heating fuels.
In addition, the FFF also gave influence to “a Sunday for Future” which is the day when the Green Party won a seat in the European Parliament. The Green Party then pushed the proposed Green Deal agenda for the European Union. The Green Deal agreement was made to make Europe the first climate neutral continent in the world by 20504.
2. Black Lives Matter (BLM)
The case when Trayvon Martin’s killer was acquitted by the courts was the start and cause of the formation of the #BlackLivesMatter social movement in 2013. The BLM organization is based in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The aim of this organization is to eradicate white supremacy and build local strength to intervene to resist state violence against the black community.
According to The New York Times, BLM could be the largest social movement in the history of the United States. As of June 6, 2020, the BLM movement was carried out by 500,000 people in nearly 550 locations in the United States. The number of protestants in one day is more than the total protests in one month5. In other parts of the world, namely England, this anti-racism demonstration has been carried out by hundreds of thousands of people. In the online world, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has been used 10 million times6.
One of the BLM protests carried out by the world community was the result of the George Floyd case in 2020. Even this momentum was touted as a world-changing moment. Here are some examples of changes that have occurred in various parts of the world as a result of the Floyd case7.
a. In the United States
- Democrats are proposing legislation to reform America’s police, which would facilitate police prosecutions for trespasses, ban strangulation, and tackle racism.
- The Minneapolis City Council agreed to ban police use of strangulation devices and asked officers to report and intervene when they see an unauthorized use of force by a colleague.
- Police officers involved in Floyd’s murder have been charged with murder and conspiracy to kill
- The Louisville Metro Police Department has fired one of the three officers, Brett Hankison, involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.
- New Jersey updated guidelines to police regulating the use of force for the first time in two decades.
b. In England
- In Bristol, a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down during anti-racism protests and dumped into the harbor.
- In London, a statue of slave trader Robert Milligan was closed and later removed from outside the London Docklands Museum.
- In Glasgow, a statue of Sir Robert Peel was vandalized by protesters and campaigners called on all British cities to remove all historical figures associated with slavery and racism.
3. I am Malala
Malala is a woman who grew up in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, an area with an unstable government and rising opposition forces. Malala’s father is a private school owner who makes sure that his children can go to school. Although Malala had the privilege of going to school, it did not last long because after the Taliban took over her residence, more than 200 girls’ schools were closed, including hers.
Months after Malala was unable to attend school, she was moved to fight injustice and fight for the right to school for girls. Time and again Malala has stood up in public to fight the Taliban. Then in 2009, Malala started blogging on the BBC to share with the world about the injustices and misery facing the Swat Valley.
Malala’s blog spread very quickly and gained thousands of followers from all over the world. People were moved by Malala’s story. At that time the Pakistani army pushed the Taliban out of Swat Valley so Malala went back to school. Malala continues to carry out social movements fighting for women’s rights to go to school despite the Taliban resistance. Malala became more and more famous, but Malala’s negative reputation in the eyes of the Taliban also grew, provoking them to kill Malala. In a feud, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban.
Malala was later treated in England and survived the deadly gunfire. After recovering, Malala did not give up and continued to fight for this issue. Malala started the Malala Fund in 2013 to help the 130 million women aged 6-17 in the world who are unable to attend school because of their dispossession. Then in 2014 Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize8.
The Malala Fund represents women who are pressured by religion, misogyny, and gender segregation. The Malala Fund has contributed massively to this issue around the world. Among them managed to get $2.9 billion from G7 countries and the World Bank for educating women and collaborating with Apple Inc. to educate 100,000 girls9.
4. Me Too
The social movement “me too” was founded by Tarana Burke in 2006 to fight sexual harassment and sexual violence. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that this social movement gained the spotlight from around the world. Alyssa Milano helped popularize the hashtag #MeToo so that it went viral on social media. This Me Too social movement has resulted in various concrete positive changes in the United States, including the following10.
- Countries prohibit non-disclosure agreements covering sexual harassment
- States introduce protections for more workers
- The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund has helped more than 3,600 people seek justice
- The movement to end the minimum wage from tipping is intensifying
- Congress has reformed some of its processes for staff reporting sexual harassment
- Some survivors get financial compensation
- Americans have changed the way they think about power
In addition to the United States, the social movement Me Too has made a massive contribution to survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Examples are as follows.
- Making it clear to the survivors that they are not alone
- Developing stronger communities where survivors feel they have a voice
- Showing how widespread this problem is
- Shifting social norms and opinions on this issue
- Exposing belief systems that allow violence
- Developing compassion for survivors
- Raising a voice around sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual intimidation
- Removing the stigma of the problem and make it safe to discuss
. . .
- Brittanica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/social-movement/The-consequences-of-social-movements
- Shah, S. Social Movements: Meaning, Causes, Types, Revolution and Role. Retrieved from https://www.sociologydiscussion.com/social-movements/social-movements-meaning-causes-types-revolution-and-role/2248
- Fridays for Future Movement – Inspiration and Action Award. Champions of the Earth. Retrieved from https://www.unep.org/championsofearth/laureates/2019/fridays-future-movement
- Braw, E. (2019, December 30). 2020 for the Future. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/12/30/fridays-for-future-foreign-policy-bureacrats-officials-2019-greta-thunberg/
- Buchanan, L., Bui, Q., & Patel, J. K. (2020, July 3). Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/03/us/george-floyd-protests-crowd-size.html
- Campbell, A. (June 13). What is Black Lives Matter and what are the aims? BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-53337780
- O’Mailey, K. (2020, June 25). How Black Lives Matter Protests Have Changed The World, A Month After George Floyd’s Death. Elle. Retrieved from https://www.elle.com/uk/life-and-culture/culture/a32822672/black-lives-matter-protests-achievements-statues-police-reform/
- He, K. (2020, March 22). Malala’s Movement: An Inspiration for Courage, Endurance, and Compassion. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/young-spurs/malalas-movement-an-inspiration-for-courage-endurance-and-compassion-7bedd071d2e1
- Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Fund
- North, A. (2019, October 4). 7 positive changes that have come from the #MeToo movement. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/10/4/20852639/me-too-movement-sexual-harassment-law-2019